Most clients have lots of questions immediately after having been arrested for DUI. Often a DUI charge is the first and only time that someone deals with the criminal justice system and therefore they have no idea how the process really works.
Fortunately we’re here to listen to your questions and give you straight-forward answers. A huge part of the anxiety of an arrest is not knowing what will happen.
Below are 5 of the most common questions we get shortly after an arrest. There are lots more of course, so give us a call or fill out the contact form if your question isn’t answered here.
What happens on my first court date? Will I enter a plea?
Your first court date after a Knoxville DUI arrest will usually be an arraignment. This court appearance will often be within two weeks of your arrest. The arraignment serves several purposes.
The first is that the Court must be sure that you know what you are charged with and what your rights are.
The Judge will also want to know if you have a lawyer, if you are going to represent yourself, or if you don’t have enough resources, whether you are going to use the public defender.
If you have a Knoxville DUI lawyer retained before the arraignment, usually you will not have to go to court on this date since your attorney can let the Court know that he or she has been hired to handle the case and that you are aware of what your charges are.
Both your DUI lawyer and the State’s prosecutor will likely want more time to prepare the case and you will be given a court date at a later time.
What if I’m found guilty of DUI? Will I lose my license? Go to Jail?
Tennessee has steadily increased the penalties for DUI over the last twenty or so years. There are now mandatory, minimum penalties that not even the Judge can keep you from serving, if you are convicted.
In order to avoid the following penalties you would have to have your case dismissed, reduced to a lesser charge, or be found not guilty (which is our goal in every case we take on).
The bare minimum penalties for a first offense DUI in Tennessee are:
- 48 hours in jail
- 11 months and 29 days on probation
- Loss of driver’s license for 1 year
- 12 hours of DUI School
- $350 fine plus court costs (usually over $1,000 total)
- 365 days use of an Ignition Interlock device before being eligible for license reinstatement (at your own expense)
If you have had a previous DUI, the minimum penalties become much more severe.
I gave a blood or breath test, won’t I be convicted for sure?
If that were the case, I wouldn’t have much of a job, but even when the State has a BAC, you can still fight and win.
The majority of the cases where a blood test is given, the results come back over the legal limit, but even so, we have had great results in getting DUI cases dismissed and reduced to lesser charges.
That is because there are more issues involved in a DUI case than just what your BAC was. For instance, an officer must have “reasonable suspicion,” as defined by the law, to even ask you to take a blood test.
He also must have had a legal reason to stop your car or keep you from leaving.
The many different defenses to DUI, even with an elevated BAC, could and does fill entire books.
If you have been arrested for DUI it is important that you speak to a qualified DUI defense lawyer in Knoxville about the specific facts of your case, to determine what defense you have.
What does a good DUI lawyer cost? and how much is this all going to cost me?
Frankly, getting arrested for DUI is not cheap, even if you can’t afford a private DUI lawyer and have counsel appointed.
Even so, we try hard to keep our services affordable, while still maintaining a small enough number of cases to do a good job and make sure all our clients are well taken care of.
To be a little more specific, the answer to this question varies greatly and depends in part on the specific facts of your case and the quality of the lawyer you hire.
I have heard of Knoxville DUI lawyers charging as little as $1500 and as much as $15,000 for a first offense DUI. Both those prices are extremes.
We understand a good DUI defense attorney is probably not something you’ve been budgeting for. It is important to us that our fees remain affordable but also compensate for the large amount of time, effort, and expense that goes into each and every case. We accept credit cards and offer payment plans with affordable down payments so that you can get the representation you need.
Ultimately, hiring a top-notch DUI lawyer may even save you money. The cost of SR-22 high risk insurance, fines, court costs, probation fees, ignition interlock or transdermal alcohol monitoring devices add up, but even those costs can’t compare to the cost of lost income in many fields over years and decades.
If having a DUI on your record causes you to be passed over for even one better job in your life, the financial consequences will be extreme.
What should I look for in a DUI lawyer? How do I know who is good?
First, in my opinion, it is important to hire someone who handles many DUI cases, rather than a general criminal defense attorney, or even worse, an attorney you know or are referred to that practices some other area of law, like divorces or real estate.
You wouldn’t have a cardiologist treat your broken arm, and for good reason. The same logic applies.
That is because DUI cases present many specific issues that most criminal defense and other civil cases do not. The law, science, investigation techniques, and courtroom skills that are often the difference between a guilty plea and keeping a DUI off a client’s record only come with years of dedicated practice and training in DUI defense.
For instance, good things to look for in a DUI lawyer are:
- NHTSA training in the field sobriety tests and the “ARIDE” drugs that impair driving course.
- Active participation in the National College for DUI Defense
- Hands on training in blood testing and gas chromatography (the scientific method most often used to test blood in DUI cases)
- Numerous positive reviews from former DUI clients who have actually used the attorney’s services
I hope these 5 questions and answers have been helpful in researching your or your family member’s DUI arrest. If we can help in any way or answer questions, give us a call or fill out the form on the right of this page.